REVIEW: One Italian Summer - Keris Stainton

One Italian Summer - Keris Stainton
Published by Hot Key Books on 4 May 2017
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My rating: 5/5

Yes, I'm reading this book in April and as it comes out at the start of May, you're probably longing for summer as much as I am. Warm weather and time off and fun. One Italian Summer is an adventure in itself. I completely escaped in the story, so much that I could almost smell the pizza and feel the sun. It was bliss.

Milly and her sisters Elyse and Leonie are going to Rome for the first time since their dad passed away. Their mum has been distant for the last year and with secrets hidden and longing for everything to be 'normal' again, the girls know the trip will change everything. For Milly, it means anxiety. Ever since her dad died, she's been nervous about everything and not really living...

I enjoyed this story so much because I felt a personal connection to it. Being a nervous person myself, I empathised with Milly's perspective of the world, and having also lost a loved one just over a year ago, the way she spoke about grief moved me. She describes how others seem to be moving on faster, better, easier, but she's still struggling, and I relate to this so much. Even more so, there's a poignant moment at the end of the book (no spoilers) featuring Fly Me To The Moon. That song is meaningful to me too, as it was played at the funeral of my deceased loved one. I found myself crying on a plane because of Milly. She felt exactly what I felt. 

That's what makes or breaks YA, really. Whether you're a young adult yourself or much older, we've all experienced the emotions poured into these novels and therefore they need to be portrayed respectfully and realistically. One Italian Summer did this perfectly, also adding in moments of humour, wit, and a sparkle of romance.

The romance. Keris Stainton got it just right. There was no insta-love or crazy whirlwind of a relationship. It was two people who weren't perfect and even confessed they probably wouldn't last, but wanted to have fun anyway. This healthy portrayal that romance doesn't have to be intense or forever is so important and often ignored. On the same note, Milly's sexual desires aren't ignored. So many contemporary romances overlook the desires of the female protagonist, but not here. She's free to express how she's feeling about people and what she wants (which, after all is how it should be as it's a first person narrative).

All this is leading to one point: readers who enjoy Morgan Matson and Kasie West will enjoy Keris Stainton, who knows just how to write the perfect summer contemporary.

What books are you reading this summer?

Love, Jess

Thank you to Hot Key for my copy.

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